The Indonesian Government plans to sue PTT Exploration & Production (PTTEP) company next year for at least $1.7bn in damages over the Montara oil spill

Last year, an Australian court ruled in favour of Indonesian seaweed farmers whose livelihoods were affected by the oil spill. However, PTTEP, an oil and gas subsidiary of the Petroleum Authority of Thailand, filed an appeal against the verdict. This would have resulted in it having to pay more than $262m in compensation.

In 2019, around 13,000 Indonesian seaweed farmers sued PTTEP Australasia , stating the oil spill had harmed their crops and negatively impacted their livelihoods. They sought $132.3m in damages.

PTTEP had then agreed to pay approximately $129m to a group of Indonesian seaweed farmers to settle a class action lawsuit brought by them.

According to Indonesia’s environment and forestry deputy minister Alue Dohong, the government is demanding a larger settlement from PTTEP for the harm it caused to coral reefs, mangroves, and marine life, including $281.3m to fund restoration efforts, Bloomberg News reported.

An explosion on 21 August 2009 caused the oil spill off the northern coast of Western Australia in the Timor Sea. The Montara rig continued to spew oil for 74 days before a relief well was drilled. PTTEP operated the Montara field when the accident occurred, 250 kilometres southeast of Rote Island in Indonesia. It is known as one of Australia’s worst oil disasters.

At the time, Australia’s PTTEP chief executive Ken Fitzpatrick said: “Mistakes were made that should never be repeated. The conclusion of the court proceedings draws a line under the Montara incident, allowing the company to focus on producing safe and clean operations now and into the future.”

Australia’s PTTEP had initially stated that the oil discharged from Montara never reached Indonesian waterways. It later admitted that this contamination did take place.